Sore laborers have hard hands
And old sinners have brawny consciences.
Anne Bradstreet, Meditation XXXVI
We read in Scripture of three sorts of arrows:
The arrow of an enemy
The arrow of pestilence
And the arrow of a slanderous tongue;
The two first kill the body,
The last the good name;
The two former leave a man when he is once dead,
But the last mangles him in his grave.
Much labor wearies the body
and many thoughts oppress the mind:
Man aimes at profit by the one
And content in the other;
But often misses both,
And find nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
Wisdom with an inheritance is good
but wisdom without an inheritance is better
than an inheritance without wisdom.
Luke 12:13–21 (AV)
13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
It is a pleasant thing to behold the light,
but sore eyes are not able to look upon.
The pure in heart shall see God,
but the defiled in conscience shall rather choose to be buried under rocks
than to behold the presence of the Lamb.
Anne Bradstreet, Meditation XXVII
The Puritans seemed fond of this image:
The skillful fisher hath his several baits for several fish,
but there is a hook under all;
Satan, that great angler,
hath his sundry baits for sundry tempers of men
which they all catch greedily at
But few perceive the hook till it be too late.
Anne Bradstreet, Meditation 23.
Thomas Brooks wrote, of Satan’s Devices:
Device (1). To present the bait and hide the hook; to present the golden cup, and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin, and by hiding from the soul the wrath and misery that will certainly follow the committing of sin. By this device he took our first parents: Gen. 3:4, 5, ‘And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ Your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods! Here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit. Oh, but he hides the hook,—the shame, the wrath, and the loss that would certainly follow!2
Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 12.
Thomas Manton, Sermon 1, The Temptation of Christ:
He persuadeth us to evil by profit, pleasure, necessity; we cannot live without it in the world. He hideth the hook, and showeth the bait only; he concealeth the hell, the horror, the eternal pains that follow sin, and only telleth you how beneficial, profitable, and delightful the sin will be to you: Prov. 9:17, 18, ‘Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of hell.’
Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 1 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1870), 266.
Thomas Boston, Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, 6th Petition:
The bait wherewith the hook of temptation is busked. This is always some seeming good, if it were but the satisfying of a lust or a humour. In drawing or alluring temptations, the bait it some seeming good to be got. Thus was the present world to Demas, and the thirty pieces of silver to Judas. In driving temptations, the bait is some seeming good to be kept, by preventing evil, as those spoke of, Matth. 13:21 who, ‘when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by are offended.’ And it is no small advantage in temptation, to see through the bait, that it is but a bait to deceive. For so one will perceive, that it will not quit the cost, that by the bargain they will never better their condition, Matth. 16:26. ‘For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’
Thomas Boston, The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 2, ed. Samuel M‘Millan, vol. 2 (Aberdeen: George and Robert King, 1848), 627–630.